LACONIA — A settlement has been reached in a civil suit filed against the city of Laconia by a family which maintains that their son who has been diagnosed with developmental and cognitive disorders caused by lead paint ingestion.
The $125,000 settlement was approved Monday by Judge James D. O'Neill III in Belknap County Superior Court following several years of litigation. Stephanie Randall and her minor son filed suit for negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and violating the Consumer Protection Act, claiming the city failed to disclose that the house which she and Jamison Randall bought on 192 Elm Street in 2003 was contaminated.
The suit was originally filed in 2012, nine years after the Randalls bought the home from the city. At the time of the sale, the city allegedly failed to provide the Randalls with the proper lead paint remediation documentation.
The city had purchased the home at 192 Elm Street in Lakeport in 1998. At that time it was a group home and the city bought it in order to provide extra storage and parking for the neighboring Goss Reading Room, a branch of the Laconia Public Library. The seller turned over to the city a 1996 Lead Paint Inspection Report which was conducted by Alpha Lead Consultants Inc. that indicated lead-based paint was present in the home.
Three years after the purchase of the home, in 2006 the Randalls, who already had two daughters, had a son. In 2008, the Randalls learned their son had a blood lead level of 21 mg/dl; 5 mg/dl is considered the highest acceptable level.
The Alpha report was turned over to the family's attorney as part of the initial discovery process after the suit was filed.
The city had tried in 2012 to get the case dismissed, arguing that the statute of limitations, from the time of the sale to the date the injury was first discovered, had expired.
The trial court originally agreed with the city in a summary judgment ruling. However in May of 2012 the U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit, overturned the ruling, concluding that the Randalls could not have known of the injury within three years of the sale, because the child wasn't born yet.
A footnote in the ruling said that it was not entirely clear why the city had not completed a disclosure form or divulged the Alpha report, ''although there is some suggestion that that the Alpha report might have been housed in a separate library file as opposed to a city file.''
Another footnote says that Randall said he thought there was no need for an inspection because his wife, on a tour of the property, had been told by a library employee that any lead-based paint issues would have been taken care of by the former owner, the group home, when it applied for licensing. The city had disputed that the employee made the remark but Circuit Court of Appeals judge ruled that it was not necessary for the court to resolve the factual dispute.
Atty. Christopher Seufert, who represented the Randall family, was award included legal fees in the amount of $31,250 and legal expenses of $17,214. The balance of $76,535 will be paid to a Belknap County Probate Court account for the damages suffered by the woman's minor child.
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